Finding deck leaks the overkill way and why duct tape isn't a good idea to seal holes - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 19 Old 05-02-2016 Thread Starter
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Finding deck leaks the overkill way and why duct tape isn't a good idea to seal holes

Hello,

First post here! I've found so much helpful advice here that I thought I'd share my experience in trying to find (or rather prove) a deck leak. I've seen threads on this subject, but never any pics or videos.

A friend had a bimini installed last spring, and some attachments came undone over the course of the summer. The canvas maker "sealed" the holes with duct tape over the winter. Come this spring, we noticed there had been a serious leak into the boat over the winter. We wanted to prove he was at fault and resorted to pressurizing the boat's interior with a "squirrel cage" blower and sprinkling soapy water over them to see if any bubbles would come out. They did, and we proved our point.

Worked so well we proceeded to test other deck hardware , and we found a lot of other leaks.

I've attached a few images of the setup. We found leaks in the bimini holes, one chainplate and both cowls.

The takeaway for me is:
  • although it seems more involved than flooding the deck, pressurizing removes a lot of the uncertainty with regards to where a leak might originate. Considering everything, it's probably less of a hassle than guesswork.
  • You will find most, if not all, leaks if you're thorough enough
  • Use 6 mil vapor barrier or a similar strong material.
  • Seal the companionway from the inside, get out of the boat from a hatch, and put a heavy object on the hatch to seal it
  • a 3000cfm blower is totally overkill (we used it at medium setting, which seemed less than half of full speed)
  • Your to-do list will lenghten dramatically after doing this!

I have a video of it all, but am unable to post in the proper forum due to not having enough posts yet. Keep an eye out if interested.

Cheers,
L
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image5.jpg   image4.jpg   image3.jpg   image2.jpg   image1.jpg  

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post #2 of 19 Old 05-02-2016
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Re: Finding deck leaks the overkill way and why duct tape isn't a good idea to seal h

Sounds like a good idea, I've got a mystery leak or two I'd like to find. How much sealing up did you have to do around the mast and the lockers in the cockpit?
Thanks for the idea/extra work!
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Re: Finding deck leaks the overkill way and why duct tape isn't a good idea to seal h

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Originally Posted by lumpy102 View Post
Sounds like a good idea, I've got a mystery leak or two I'd like to find. How much sealing up did you have to do around the mast and the lockers in the cockpit?
Thanks for the idea/extra work!
Lump
Mast is deck stepped, so not much there. As for the lockers, we sealed them while open - wasn't too hard. Just remember to close all the through hulls and seal the ventilation ports. We just stuffed rags tightly in the cowls too... You can get away with an imperfect job if you have enough cfm being pumped in he cabin, as long as the big obvious holes like the companionway are well done.

It was a 2 hour job to get it sealed, and maybe half an hour to remove and clean the duct tape residue with acetone. How long you want to spend spraying everything on the deck with soapy water is up to you, but be careful - it'll make it slippery.

L
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post #4 of 19 Old 05-03-2016
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Re: Finding deck leaks the overkill way and why duct tape isn't a good idea to seal h

What a cool idea. Simple and effective. My brother has been trying to find a deck leak - I'll tell him about this!
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post #5 of 19 Old 05-03-2016
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Re: Finding deck leaks the overkill way and why duct tape isn't a good idea to seal h

I used this "leaf blower pressurization" method a few years ago, and it worked pretty well. Instead of duct tape, I used painter's blue masking tape to seal the joints. This tape held up to the pressure and left very little adhesive residue.

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Re: Finding deck leaks the overkill way and why duct tape isn't a good idea to seal h

I find that sail tape is the best product to temporarily seal an opening to weather, although, exposed to an entire winter is not temporary.

I would love to give this blower idea a try, but I'm afraid, with a keel stepped mast and a 70ft furling slot to escape air, it's futile.


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Re: Finding deck leaks the overkill way and why duct tape isn't a good idea to seal h

I'm afraid to find out.....but then again I am afraid not too.
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post #8 of 19 Old 05-03-2016
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Re: Finding deck leaks the overkill way and why duct tape isn't a good idea to seal h

the gods pressure wash my boat every summer. new and undetected leaks found annually.. oops. patricia was a rainforest inside boat.....
have fun and best of detection to ye. waterfalls on pillow really suck.
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Re: Finding deck leaks the overkill way and why duct tape isn't a good idea to seal h

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
the gods pressure wash my boat every summer. new and undetected leaks found annually........
Ahhh, yes. But knowing you have them and knowing how they got in are very different things..........


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Re: Finding deck leaks the overkill way and why duct tape isn't a good idea to seal h

If you did this on your house you'd probably lift a few shingles and see air escaping there. However you wouldn't necessarily actually have a 'rain leak'.

I wonder if that factor might come into play here? For example the raised shroud/chainplate attachment point blew air.. but might not actually leak (unless submerged, perhaps...)

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